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  • 28 May 2012
  • 4 min read

In detail: working as a children and families social worker

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

Elsewhere on this site we list jobs for social workers specialising in children and families so it seemed only right to detail the role here.

Working in social worker to children and families jobs is an important and meaningful role. You'll help individuals have the best start possible and support the people around them to do so too.

Much of this work involves helping families with the way they communicate and encouraging them to understand the risks their child is experiencing.

Duties

Working for children's services and with families involves many things.You'll work to help families sort out their problems and stay together by developing a positive relationship, undertaking assessments and referring them to appropriate agencies.

For those who are welcoming children into their family, you'll help to manage the fostering or adoption process.

For children becoming young adults, you could also work with them to ensure their care leaving is as smooth as possible. You may also join youth offending teams or work to combat truancy and school attendance issues.

Families with illness problems often end up with children working as young carers. As their social worker, you'll make sure they receive the full amount of help available to them to lighten their load.

Away from your charges, you'll be attending meetings, fulfilling the administrative requirements of reports, letters and records, planning and reviewing meetings and liaising with other relevant professionals.

You may also take time to work on research projects related to your interests or caseloads, work night-time/evening/weekend shifts to cover enquiries or work specifically with children with disabilities.

The thrust of your job will be determined partly by your team, partly by legislation and, of course, driven entirely over-all by the children and families' needs.

Qualities

Social workers primarily need to be excellent at communication, developing rapport and engaging with people. To be better than just going through the motions, you'll need to genuinely care about the people you work with.

Your services users will need to feel you are trustworthy and respectful of their dignity and needs too. In order to cope with these kinds of demands, carry out interventions, deal with conflict and be present in emotionally-charged situations, you'll need to be assertive and emotionally resilient.

These latter qualities will also enable you to prioritise and care about the people you work with whilst protecting yourself and keeping your home life and workload separate.

Career Path

After qualifying for social worker jobs, there are various areas you may start your practice in. You may work for local government, an independent organisation, all kinds of children's services, in hospitals or mental health trusts.

If you want to continue your training, you can also specialise in areas like youth offending, adoption, fostering, mental health or family care.

You can also return to study to attain your Master's or Ph.D. qualifications. Often, this involve a closer look at areas like social policy, psychology, leadership and management, children, sociological/economic/cultural factors or differing care provision.

A Master's qualification can also be undertaken by those whose first degree is not in social work to convert to the social work career path.

To move forward, you can become a senior practitioner or move laterally into something more managerial like team leader or senior social worker.

Getting started

If this all sounds good, you should start to think about how to get started. You can gain your social work degree by attending university full-time, part-time or on a distance learning course, such as the Open University.

It is also possible to qualify for bursaries to help with the fee.

To get a feel for the kinds of salary you're likely to attract or places you may work, have a look now at the openings in our job database.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choices we all make. It speaks about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs I want to explore these career choices: the ones that put other people first.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choices we all make. It speaks about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs I want to explore these career choices: the ones that put other people first.